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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 7 (December 1, 1930)

Picture of New Zealand Life

page 44

Picture of New Zealand Life

The Long-Lost Tribe.

Every now and again down South some romance-loving individual sets going a rumour that there may be a remnant of the lost Ngati Mamoe tribe surviving away back yonder in the forest recesses of Fiordland. The latest proposal is put forth by a Maori of Ruapuke Island, that celebrated map-dot you pass between the Bluff and Stewart Island. He is a veteran whaler and sealhunter, and is in part descended from Ngati-Mamoe. His idea is that an expedition should be fitted out to search the unknown country at the head of the West Coast Sounds for traces of the fugitives who were driven into that vast forest wilderness many generations ago.

Down in Southland years ago, I heard from old Maoris many a tale about the vanished people, a section of Ngati Mamoe who were pursued to the western shores of Lake Te Anau by their enemies, and who disappeared into the mountains and bush between those parts and the Sounds. The period was about the latter part of the eighteenth century. Traces of the tribe of the mist were seen by early pakeha seal-hunters, at the head of Bligh Sound and George Sound. It was evident that there were still inhabitants of those parts some eighty or ninety years ago. The last signs of the fugitive folk, so far as my information goes, were seen by Hone te Paina and a crew of Southland Maoris who went round to Milford Sound in a sealing boat in 1870. Old Hone and another veteran of the seal-hunt told me at Oraka in 1903 that they found footprints in the mud on the shore of Lake Ada, and the remains of sleeping-places, and the ashes of long dead camp fires.

That was the very last. There is no sound reason for the belief that any of the Ngati-Mamoe have survived to these times in the Fiordland. But by all means let that search party get busy this summer. Though they are not likely to discover the bush tribe, they are certain to find a lot of other items of scientific interest, mayhap that rara avis, the takahea, the notornis like a blue turkey.

My own private theory concerning those Ngati-Mamoe is that they were all bitten to death long ago by the sandflies and mosquitoes of our Great Lone Land

page 45

Obit: “Kuku Brooklet.”

The Wellington provincial dairy world mourns the loss of the famous Jersey cow “Kuku Brooklet,” of Ohau, which died at the Wairarapa Show, on duty to the last. An obituary notice in the dailies described her as “a cow of exceptional character, body and dairy ability.” She won no end of championships in her day, and right well she must have deserved that write-up and send-off to the land where there shall be no more teat-pulling and no more anxious moments over butter-fat tests. Would that we all could do our duty in the world as well as “Kuku Brooklet”!

New Zealand Railways Express Services. The Wellington-New Plymouth Express leaving Wellington (Thorndon Station) on its 251-mile run to New Plymouth.

New Zealand Railways Express Services.
The Wellington-New Plymouth Express leaving Wellington (Thorndon Station) on its 251-mile run to New Plymouth.

The thought comes, why cannot some of our poets rise to the occasion and commemorate in eloquent lines the life and milky deeds of that sorely-mourned queen of cowland? Why not, instead of inditing poems to fantails, Silverstream by moonlight, and other inconsequent things, give us a worth-while ode to the golden cow that links our Empire together in silken bonds of steel and so forth? This is the idea, roughly, by way of giving our rhymesters something to be going on with:

“Kuku Brooklet's” gone and died,
Idol of the country-side;
She deserves a funeral grand,
Preceded by the local band;
Every milking test she won it,
She knew her duty and she done it.

Something like that, with “Kuku's” pedigree worked in, and due credit to her male partners. Inspiration! It is here in Cowland's Helicon by the bucketful.

Our First Plough.

It is well to have reminders now and again of our beginnings as a nation, and especially of the pioneer dates in the work of breaking-in the wild country for civilised industry. This item is particularly worth remembrance, as brought before the attention of His Excellency the Governor-General lately. It was on the 3rd of May, 1820, that a plough was first put to the soil of New Zealand. This was at Kerikeri, Bay of Islands (the early page 46 pakeha chroniclers called it “Kiddi Kiddi”). The ploughman was a missionary, the Rev. John Butler, and the plough was drawn by a team of six bullocks, brought over from Sydney in H.M.S. Dromedary. “I trust,” Mr. Butler wrote, “that this auspicious day will be remembered with gratitude, and its anniversary kept by the ages yet unborn.”

Indeed it is an anniversary New Zealand should be profoundly glad to honour. That upturning of a furrow a hundred and ten years ago was a momentous thing for us— marking, as it did, the opening of a new era for these islands.

Scrap the Rubbish.

An artistic contributor to a North New Zealand paper has been directing timely attention to the overcrowded walls of some city art galleries, and advocating a good weeding out of the mediocre and doubtful pictures. Many of us who take an interest in such matters will agree heartily with his criticisms and suggestions. There are doubtful “old masters” in Auckland, and there are in every gallery poor things that are simply a waste
”… valleys fair With birds and rivers making song.”— F.S. Willianson. A picturesque scene on the Catlins River near Houipapa, Southland, New Zealand.

”… valleys fair With birds and rivers making song.”— F.S. Willianson.
A picturesque scene on the Catlins River near Houipapa, Southland, New Zealand.

of canvas and frame. Why such stuff is allowed to cumber the walls of a public collection that is supposed to represent the highwater mark of art in the community is a puzzle. It may be that the committees of citizens governing these places do not like to offend well-meaning patrons and painters. It would relieve them of all such qualms if some outside independent person were to undertake the weeding out.

Tangiwai,” for instance, would begin, so far as the Wellington gallery is concerned, by dumping into the backyard those monstrous and meaningless canvases that occupy so much space on the upper part of the walls. They are understood to be gifts from some long-gone dignitary, whose family got tired of seeing them on its dining-room walls. There are, at least, half-a-hundred other pictures that could be scrapped with benefit to the city's reputation; amateurish stuff that might do well enough in a learners’ classroom as examples of what to avoid, but which are ridiculous in a public collection of pictures purporting to represent the height of artistic taste in the community.